These National Geographic photo contest winners will take your breath away

Out of 18,000 entries, these caught the judges' eye to win National Geographic Traveler's annual photo contest

By Joanna Rothkopf
August 5, 2014 6:00PM (UTC)
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Grand Prize - The Independence Day While on storm chasing expeditions in the Tornado Alley in USA I have encountered many photogenic supercell storms. This photograph was taken while we were approaching the storm near Julesburg, Colorado on My 28th, 2013. The storm was tornado warned for more than one hour, but stayed an LP storm through all its cycles and never produced a tornado, just occasional brief funnels, large hail and some rain. Location: Julesburg, Colorado, USA (Photo and caption by Marko Korošec / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

For its annual photography contest, National Geographic Traveler received more than 18,000 entries from all over the world. According to the official website, judges "found themselves wandering through stunning ice caves, mysterious desert views and intriguing scenes from cultures throughout the world." The winning photographs are absolutely stunning, featuring scenes from Colorado to Israel to Burma.

Entrants were able to submit to one of the following categories: travel portraits, outdoor scenes, sense of place and spontaneous moments. The following slideshow features photographs that won the top three prizes and seven merit awards with captions written by the photographers themselves. Which is your favorite?
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National Geographic Traveler Photography Slide Show